Bringing All-Sports to New Places: The Journey of the SCHEELS Store Development Team

Written by: Josiah Kopp

The new 331,000 square foot store in Colony, Texas that is opening in the spring of 2020.

The Store Development team at SCHEELS has been hard at work in the last year and a half opening three new locations, expanding the team and growing as a company.

The Store Development team at SCHEELS is responsible for construction, building, and opening new stores. The Store Development team oversees planning and development for all phases of construction for projects. They then determine each project schedule and collaborate with architects, engineers, city leaders, and developers to build a strong customer experience. Additionally, they support existing stores with new renovations and daily maintenance.

During the challenges faced throughout the 2020 pandemic, SCHEELS safely opened three new stores. SCHEELS remained focused, adapting to the change while simultaneously building and growing. In spring of 2020, they opened a 331,000 square foot store in The Colony, TX– the largest All Sports Store in the world. Some of the features include a 65’ Ferris wheel, service shop, saltwater aquarium, baseball and golf simulators, a wildlife mountain, Ginna’s Cafe, and Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory.

New SCHEELS Locations Opening Across the Country

Eden Prairie Store
Opened 254,000 square foot store in Eden Prairie, MN in the summer 2020

In Summer of 2020, just four months after opening the SCHEELS location in The Colony, TX, another flagship store was opened in Eden Prairie, MN. “We actually stripped [the old Sears space] down, expanded it, and made it our own,” says Project Leader Josh Remer. “Today, you would never know that it was a previous building, other than a SCHEELS store.”

A new 220,000 square foot location opened in Colorado Springs in March 2021. The building features a Sage Glass ceiling, which is e-chromatic glass that tints ahead of the position of the sun. There are two panes of glass that have a gap in between them. A low voltage wire runs to each piece of glass and charges the gas for tint. The glass, which is made in Faribault, MN, has gone into 5 SCHEELS buildings to date. The construction of the Colorado Springs store also included 1,592 tons of steel, 5,888 light fixtures, 136,000 bricks, 20 semi loads of insulation, and 165,000 lbs of HVAC ductwork.

When it comes to the process of opening a new store, there are many moving pieces that help bring everything together for the Store Development team.

“The entire building process takes two to three years before we open our doors to the public,” says VP of Store Development Jason Loney. There are a lot of questions that have to be considered, including the location of the store, the design, and working with the engineers and architects. “Internally, we’re working with our buyers who have researched what products will be best for that specific market,” says Loney. “We work a lot with our developers, who are partners, whether they’re [helping us find] land where we can build the store, or pre-existing space for renovations and expansions. Once we get rolling, it’s all about working with the local contractors and the city officials to have a smooth process– so the minute we announce our Grand Opening date, we’re going to hit that date and have a good experience for the customer.”

Colorado Springs Location
The construction of the wildlife mountain inside the Colorado Springs, CO location

More Locations in the Forecast

Currently, the Store Development team is working on a 110,000 square foot store in Missoula, MT, which will open in October 2021. Additionally, the Store Development team has started the construction process for a new store in Minot, ND, replacing a smaller store.

Two more stores in the forecast are 220,000 square foot locations opening in Wichita, KS and Chandler, AZ in 2023.

To top it off, SCHEELS is in the midst of moving its corporate office to a new headquarters in Fargo. That move will create more space for the Fargo SCHEELS store to expand. “We’ve definitely been busy,” says Remer. “To help navigate through these projects, we’ve added a co-project leader, an office assistant, and also a corporate maintenance lead. [We] certainly had to work creatively and carefully through the pandemic to make it all happen.”

How SCHEELS Chooses the Right Locations & Markets

“We make sure that everything is overbuilt to last the retail environment.”
-Wood Shop Leader Luke Picard

Choosing where to open a store next requires a great deal of research and teamwork for the Store Development team. “The market decision is a pretty lengthy process because we’re only building one or two new locations a year,” says Loney. “It includes a lot of research, looking at the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) demographics, and identifying if it’s a good fit for SCHEELS.”

Once the Store Development team knows the market is going to be good for the company’s future, they send buying teams to look at the proposed location and start digging in. During this time, they address hundreds of questions that help them solidify the market and location within the market. Some of these questions include: What makes this location unique? What developers can the Store Development team work with? What land or buildings are available for them to renovate?

Additionally, SCHEELS has a woodshop within the Store Development team, which plays a major role in the new store construction process.

The woodshop is one of SCHEELS’ best-kept secrets. “Our main focus is on new stores or stores that are going through a major remodel, as well as supporting existing stores with their fixture needs,” says Wood Shop Leader Luke Picard. “The guys in the shop are master craftsmen who can build anything. By keeping it in-house we’re able to control costs as well as ensure quality.”

The Store Development team at SCHEELS has been hard at work designing and building beautiful new spaces for you and your family to enjoy. As new locations open and visions for more are on the horizon, the Store Development team hopes to create memorable experiences in every SCHEELS store.

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Josiah is an Editor and Photographer at Spotlight Media in Fargo.